HIMSS 2016: Running in Vegas

Attention runners, joggers and power-walkers…early morning is a fantastic time to hit the famous Vegas Strip! According to Melissa Farrell of the group Las Vegas Runners, if you get out early enough before HIMSS, you can run along the Strip without worrying about pedestrian or car traffic.

”If you’re staying near the convention center itself, it’s only about a quarter of a mile via Sands Avenue to the Strip,” Farrell says. “You’ll need to be careful on that road and probably run on the sidewalk. From there it is all pedestrian bridges, sidewalks and a few stairs.”

And then, you’ll be able to count the Las Vegas Strip as one of your conquered running destinations!

In addition to heading up Las Vegas Runners, Farrell is a run coach and personal trainer. If you’re interested in getting a group run scheduled from the HIMSS convention, get in touch with Farrell at LasVegasRunners@gmail.com. Or visit www.LasVegasRunners.com for additional info.

HIMSS 2016: Get a Workout and Express Spa Services at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub!

Wondering where the closest fitness facility is to the HIMSS conference? It’s right next door at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub in the Venetian Sands hotel. The spa’s fitness centers and locker rooms are open to non-guests (for a fee) and included in the resort fee for guests. Hours of operation are from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM.

For those tired feet and tension headaches, Canyon Ranch is offering HIMSS attendees 20% off Express Spa Services! Just mention promotional code TS16 and choose from an array of 25-minute services that bring quick relief and rejuvenation:

  • Tension Zone Therapy
  • Sole Rejuvenation
  • Extremities
  • Custom Facial
  • Foot Doctor Express

Need more time to relax? Pamper yourself with $40 off Spa Services or 20% off at the Salon. Guests must be 14 years or older and discounted services may not be combined with other discounts or offers.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub is located at The Venetian at 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 1159, Las Vegas, NV 89109. For more information visit www.canyonranch.com

HIMSS 2016: Tips for Staying Healthy from the Amendola Team

It’s a physical and mental marathon. It’s five straight days of being on point, on message, and on your feet. It’s HIMSS…and to help you survive it, here are some tips from the team at Amendola, who have years of HIMSS conferences under our belt.

Michelle Noteboom, Senior Content and Account Director: Assume you won’t get eight hours of sleep a night but find a way to get at least six. Make sure to drink a ton of water, which helps to hydrate you from all those late night adult beverages, and, seems to help a bit with swollen feet. Assume your feet will be swollen and your shoulders aching from lugging all the trinkets you collect from exhibitors. To that end, don’t forget Advil and Band-Aids for your feet.  Bring healthy snacks for your hotel room, and finally, don’t skimp on coffee. That weak hotel room stuff doesn’t cut it when you have to be “on” for 18 hours straight. HIMSS requires a Venti Starbucks!

Margaret Kelly, Research Coordinator: Bring an emergency kit. For women, pack a clear-plastic and easy-to-get-to bag full of small amounts of Tylenol (or pain reliever of choice), Tums, “handitizor” (as my granddaughter calls it), bandages for the shoe blisters, safety pins, Chapstick, protein bar, and breath mints. The men’s version…just substitute the safety pins with duct tape, and a fanny pack for the plastic bag!

Todd Stein, Vice President: Be sure to schedule time for lunch. Many people fill up their schedules without remembering to leave time for eating. Me, for instance. Every darn year.

Amy Koehlmoos, Senior Account Director and Resident Germaphobe suggests bringing the following:

  • Raw almonds (they’re small, portable, healthy and provide good energy)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes (for the trays, arm/head rests in the plane; and the faucets, door handles, light switches in the hotel room)
  • Small Ziploc baggies (I put remote controls in these as those suckers are the #1 place for nasty germs in hotel rooms!)
  • Hand sanitizer (you shake lots of hands at these events!)
  • Earplugs (help you get a good night’s sleep in a hotel, where there are often weird sounds and loud neighbors)
  • Shoes with arch support (my philosophy is you look better wearing an orthopedic pair of shoes with confidence than you do limping around with a pained expression on your face and a pair of sassy heels on your feet)
  • Phone/connections to loved ones (mental health is important and having easy access to pictures of family and the ability to Facetime them at night makes it a bit easier to be away from home).

Mariesa Whitaker, Senior Writer: I do some of these exercises on long flights. They can sometimes feel brutal, but it keeps me feeling better—and they supposedly prevent blood clots. http://www.seanogle.com/travel/airplane-excercises

Ken Krause, Senior Content Director and our other Resident Germaphobe:

  • Drive instead of fly. Planes are breeding grounds for germs, and they keep recirculating.
  • Assume everything you’re about to touch has been previously touched by a small child with a runny nose. Proceed accordingly. That goes double for your hotel room.
  • Eat like your significant other is there watching you. Nothing good comes from visiting the snack machine.
  • Try not to touch your eyes or nose after touching a common surface such as a doorknob until you can either wash your hands or use a cleanser such as Purell.
  • Get to sleep as soon as you can rather than staying up watching TV or reading. Sometimes business travel calls for working on minimal sleep, but don’t go out of your way to get into that state.

Maximize Media & Analyst Interviews at HIMSS

It’s hard to believe that HIMSS is next week. In addition to meetings with new business prospects and partners, networking, and reunions with friends and former colleagues, you can maximize your HIMSS experience by arranging media and analyst interviews during the show. HIMSS is a golden opportunity to meet one-on-one with these key industry influencers and differentiate your company from the competition. You can also leverage these meetings to identify and secure opportunities to be included in print or online articles, blog posts and industry reports.

These industry movers and shakers are incredibly powerful: One positive mention and your sales leads could skyrocket. One negative comment and the opposite can occur.  Don’t panic. The following media training “cheat sheet” can help you achieve your goals and generate positive coverage:

  • Do your Homework. One of my most embarrassing HIMSS moments was when a client told an analyst that he “really liked his magazine.” The client obviously hadn’t taken the time to read our prep book! Before a meeting, research the background of the editor or analyst and become familiar with his/her areas of expertise and interest. Always customize your answers to address their audiences’ needs and pain points.
  • Remember your Manners. Nothing is more annoying than being interrupted. Listen to the entire question being asked and tailor your responses. Address the questions within the context of the target audience(s) and avoid dominating the conversation with a product or service pitch. Sometimes it will be appropriate to share your knowledge, vision and thoughts on the industry rather than focus on your company.
  • Body Language. Be confident, enthusiastic and friendly. Smile, lean forward and make direct eye contact. Don’t cross your arms or fidget. Remember, how you deliver your message can be as important as the message itself.
  • Get to the Point. Prepare an “elevator” pitch – a two to three sentence description of your company that is easy to understand. In other words, how would you describe your company and its products and services to your mother or the person sitting next to you on an airplane? Make sure it includes the key points you want editors or analysts to remember.
  • Avoid Jargon. Explain your product or service in layman’s terms. It’s your responsibility to make the pitch simple, clear and memorable.
  •  Power of Three. Focus on three main talking points and weave them into the conversation whenever possible. Often a reporter/analyst will ask if there is anything else that you would like to add at the end of an interview. Use this opportunity to restate your three core messages.
  •  Tie to Hot Topics. Demonstrate that you are a thought leader and can address hot topics such as meaningful use, ACOs, and where the industry is heading — not just talk about your product or company. Share the bigger vision.
  • Zen of Interviewing. When asked a difficult question, maintain eye contact, control your gestures and breathe. Listen to the question and request clarification if necessary. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and then respond. If you don’t know, don’t make it up. Offer to get back to the reporter/analyst with the appropriate information.
  • Tell a Story. People remember stories. Talk about client successes and lessons learned that highlight how your products deliver real-world value. If possible, include relevant ROI data in your storytelling.
  • Build Relationships. Be yourself, be genuine and have fun. Let editors and analysts know that you can address multiple topics and to feel free to call on you for commentary or to discuss industry trends. Offer your clients as sources for future articles. Remember, these editors and analysts can have an incredible impact on your company’s reputation and marketplace visibility. Take the time to establish and strengthen these important relationships. Your investors, board members and employees will be glad that you did.

Getting Noticed at HIMSS: 4 Insider Tips from Industry Journalists

It’s a brand new year and HIMSS season (a.k.a. #HIMSSanity) is officially upon us. The Amendola team is in full swing preparing clients for the big show in Las Vegas, from media kit development and booth collateral to social media campaigns and on-site support for interviews and analyst briefings.

It goes without saying that garnering media attention at the healthcare IT industry’s largest annual conference is no easy feat.  With 125 credentialed press floating among a sea of 43,000-plus attendees and over 1,300 HIMSS exhibitors, rising above the noise takes hard work, tactical planning, and a little bit of luck to land the coverage your company desires.

No matter what time of year, it’s always a challenge for us healthcare PR folks to determine what will tickle the media’s fancy. But even more so when the industry’s journalists are flooded daily with pitches, product launches, and interview and meeting requests the months before and during the conference.

So how can you make the most out of your HIMSS investment and improve your chances of getting noticed among press, analysts, and ultimately, potential customers?  I asked four respected healthcare IT journalists what advice they would give to attending vendors to maximize their efforts, remain relevant, and stand out among an overly “transformative,” “disruptive,” “innovative,” and “solution”-saturated HIMSS conference world.

Fred Bazzoli, Editor-In-Chief, Health Data Management, @fbazzoli – “Many companies feel compelled to release news at HIMSS. This happens to such a degree that, sadly, most news releases issued during HIMSS are hardly noticed in the email onslaught. Nor is it true that five releases issued during HIMSS are better than one. Your best bet is to manage your news release to occur before HIMSS (one to two weeks) make it as strong as possible, and be ready to discuss it at HIMSS, especially opportunities for follow-up or ‘second-day’ coverage, if the outlet did not cover the release earlier.”

Kate Gamble, Managing Editor, HealthSystemCIO.com, @khgamble – “Journalists receive tons of requests for meetings during HIMSS. If you’d like your request to stand out, customize it. Tell us why you would like to meet with us in particular (for example, you have a specific interest in an article series our publication is running, or you have someone you can recommend for an interview). And if we can’t take a meeting, please be understanding – we really are bombarded with requests, and we only have so much time to cover the conference. Also, please do not have multiple people from the same company reach out to us. And lastly, thank you for your interest – we do appreciate it, even if we can’t accommodate you.”

John Lynn, Blogger and Founder, HealthcareScene.com, @techguy – “Don’t shout on social media, engage. No one cares that you’re at Booth #0000 at HIMSS, so don’t shout that out on the #HIMSS16 hashtag.  Instead, focus your social media efforts on engaging with those talking on the #HIMSS16 hashtag that could be customers or could be influencers that your customer watch. No one will remember your booth, but everyone remembers someone who sincerely engages with them. Others will notice that sincere engagement too.”

Neal Versel, Reporter, MedCity News, @nversel – “Respect our time. There are 1,300 vendors, and we can’t meet with everyone. We also have to find time to do our regular writing assignments, and can’t afford to spend all day meeting with vendors. Plus, a lot of the educational sessions are excellent and worthy of coverage. A lot of vendors don’t understand that it isn’t just the zoo of a show floor.”


Leveraging Video for Your PR/Marketing Strategy

In 2010, the PR Director of the health IT association I worked for asked me to shoot video of staff and members. I did a double-take. I was a managing editor. Magazine articles, case studies, blog posts, eNewsletters, books—if you needed prose, I was your guy.

But video? My “qualifications” included being a classic movie buff and serving as director of shaky, out-of-focus snippets of my kids taking their first steps.

However, there was no budget, no oversight, and no expectations of success, so I agreed to do it. I was given a cheap handle-held camera, a tripod with a bum leg, and best wishes in finding my own editing software. I figured I would muscle through a couple of videos before this nascent program was quietly smothered in the crib.

Six years, 230+ videos, and one association award later, I’m a video evangelist. Here’s why video could be one of the most versatile tools in your marketing/PR arsenal:

Video is a powerful tactic on its own. I can quickly shoot and edit testimonials, as well as impactful messages and perspectives from thought leaders. For example, I shot 20 minutes of video for an Amendola client, and was able to edit a half-dozen distinct videos for them to use over the course of months. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Internet, after Google. In addition, 70% of the top 100 search listings on Google are videos. More than 92% of B2B customers watch video online, and 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly, according to Forbes.

Video seamlessly integrates with other tactics. Video can make your other PR/marketing tactics— press releases, social media, and media pitching—stand out from the crowd. For example, video increases email open-rates by 96%.

Video is cheap, easy and fun. With a one-time $300 investment and a bit of experimentation, I had portable film studio and am able to create professional-looking video clips very quickly and on the fly.

Forget big budgets. With minimal investment and technical know-how you can create a robust, creative video program that will give the rest of your PR/Marketing tactics a much-needed shot in the arm.

Check out some of the client testimonial videos I’ve created, using footage captured at HIMSS.


Planning Your 2016 Trade Show Strategy

By now your marketing/trade show budget dollars are set.  You may need to be smart with how those dollars are spent, especially if you have more important shows to cover than you have budget to exhibit at them. There are several ways to sell and/or network with prospects without investing in expensive booths and extensive staffing:

  • Co-locate in a partner booth. Not only does this save money but it may also provide visibility by leveraging your partner’s brand identity.
  • Host a reception for clients and prospects the day prior to the event or on an evening during the show.
  • Schedule an invite-only dinner for media/analysts. I only suggest this if you have something significant to share.
  • Leverage social media opportunities such as live tweets from the show even if the company’s show presence is minimal – or virtual.
  • Promote news announcement(s) though PR and social channels and announce just prior to or leading up to the show.
  • Conduct a Focus Group with customers/prospects and gather their feedback on important topics.
  • Capture video customer testimonials at the show that you can showcase on your website, in PowerPoint presentations and promote through digital channels.
  • If you were accepted to speak at the show or are leading a panel presentation, promote the news in advance to clients, prospects and industry participants who may want to listen to your words of wisdom.
  • Attend networking events. I suggest vetting the many options ahead of time so you can maximize your time at the show and attend the events that make the most sense.
  • Build on your relationships. Trade shows are an ideal venue to meet new people but it’s also a time to build on existing relationships. There’s nothing like catching up over coffee to reinvigorate a long-distance relationship. Be sure to mine your contacts to reconnect with or get to know better those who’ll be attending.

And if you do invest in a booth:

  • Ensure buzz-worthy promotions that draw attendees to the booth (consider catchy props, contests, games, etc.).
  • Develop timely, topical story angles/pitching topics at least 6-months in advance to build momentum leading up to the show.
  • Execute a strategic social media campaign that has the frequency needed to rise above the noise and leverages a well-connected digital influencer to expand your reach.
  • Leverage multiple customer touchpoints to reach your audience; you can’t rely on foot traffic alone.
  • Coordinate media/analyst interviews and follow up post-show.

Whether you invest in a booth or just have a presence at a show remember it is an ideal opportunity to garner media attention. If you are launching a major news announcement, this is a prime time to send a press release in advance of the show to pique interest among media and analysts who are often in attendance at key shows and are often available to meet in person. After the show, make sure you follow-up and leverage any media opportunities.

Here’s wishing you much success for a prosperous and fun 2016 trade show experience.